Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui announced at a press conference on 31 August that a station would be built with public funds at Yumeshima to support the venue of the Osaka/Kansai Expo in 2025 and the planned development site of Osaka prefecture/citys IR bid.
The city had been looking for private business to build and operate the facility on about 30,000 square meters of publicly owned land around the new station, to be rented from the city. However, the decision to spend public funds was made after there were no applicants when the deadline was reached in July.
Mayor Matsui said, [The station] must be built in time for the Expo. We decided that this would be a public work so we can meet the timeframe.
Further, Matsui stated that they would not proceed with the 30,000 square meters of development surrounding the station and that public money would only be spent on the station, stairs and access to the venue. The mayor did hold out hope that the development could still be entrusted to the private sector after the Expo.
Asked if it was perhaps an unattractive development site from a private business perspective, Matsui replied, Everyone in business can feel the attraction of Yumeshima. Not just for the Expo but for the future.
Further, he emphasized that the development of the station area would now happen after the Expo. He stated, It is difficult for [business] to judge all the future risks at this point.
Regarding risks to business, he said, There will be a long-term fixed loan. There has been criteria for participants to return the area to its original state upon return of the land. However the method for removing underground pits when building high-rise buildings is not yet technically established. It seems that we included things that were not possible in the criteria that had impact on the decision of private businesses. This is the number one reason that businesses have avoided [the project].
The mayor reiterated his intention to re-open options to private business in the future.
Only the joint group of MGM Resorts International and ORIX participated in the open recruitment for an Osaka IR. The group plans to invest JPY 1 trillion and aims to open in 2028 at the earliest. The prefecture/city will examine the proposal and make a decision on whether to declare MGM/ORIX as its preferred partner. If it does, Osaka will then apply to the central government between October 2021 and April 2022.